Despite dropping its tail, a hapless gecko had no chance when two fork-marked sand snakes moved in for the kill. But who would devour the prey? By Arnold Ras

Where? Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Nossob Rest Camp

When? High noon on a summer’s day

In the mix? Two fork-marked sand snakes and a Bibron’s gecko

While exploring Nossob Rest Camp, Wild Card travellers Soo and Martyn Stroud from Great Brickhill, England, almost tripped over two fork-marked sand snakes (Psammophis trinasalis). “But they quickly disappeared out of sight into the vegetation. It looked like they were hunting in a pair. We went back about 10 minutes later to see if they were still around, and what do you know… One had started feasting on a tailless Bibron’s gecko (Chondrodactylus bibronii) from the head-end,” recounts Soo.

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Pictures by Soo Stroud

Quick fact: Geckos, like many other lizards, are known to drop their tails when threatened. This allows them to escape from their predators or distract them long enough to make a quick getaway. This Kgalagadi gecko wasn’t quite so lucky…

Also read: Snake quiz: test your knowledge

Two’s a crowd?

“Pretty soon we saw the second snake hovering around, waiting for a piece of the action. It then moved in and went for the gecko’s body section.”

The Strouds wondered if the snake’s approach would prove successful. After all, do snakes share?

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“After a few minutes of little movement, the second snake realised this wasn’t going to work and it subsequently left the dinner table. Snake #2 seemed pretty annoyed as it made its way to a nearby plant, where it watched snake #1 finish the job.”

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We guess the winner takes it all…

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Better safe…

“We suspected the snakes weren’t dangerous to us, but were cautious nevertheless. This encounter reminded us of how much is going on out there and out of sight! We love the big and the small of the Kgalagadi and always feel so privileged to witness the daily life of the wildlife here.”

Good to know: The fork-marked sand snake is mildly venomous and is not considered dangerous to humans.

Soo and Martyn have been visiting the Kgalagadi for over 20 years. Although they have been privileged to enjoy safaris in many countries around the world, the Kgalagadi calls them back year after year. “It’s not overcrowded with visitors and the wildlife never fails to stun.”

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Also read: Deadly affair when snake meets kite